Education & the Economy: Harkin leads a Senate Field Hearing - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Education & the Economy: Harkin leads a Senate Field Hearing

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CEDAR FALLS (KWWL) -- A federal lawmaker is bringing Washington D.C. to Iowa. Saturday afternoon, Senator Tom Harkin held a Senate Subcommittee Field Hearing at the University of Northern Iowa. His goal is to understand the concerns, and the accomplishments, that Eastern Iowans experience in the classroom.

"Today we're hearing form people, real people, whose lives are going to be affected by cutting certain programs," explained Harkin.

"I think it means a lot that he came here to get a good understanding of what it means for this area of the state," UNI President Dr, Benjamin Allen said.

Seven people, including a student, a Head Start director, and State Senator Bill Dotzler, shared their story of how our local economy is directly impacted by access to schooling -- access which, for many people, is the result of federal help.

"These things we're talking about, in terms of Head Start programs, Pell grant programs, Social Security programs, they have a real impact on people's lives. And we'd better be very careful about how we're cutting because we may be, in fact, doing more to harm our future than to help our future," said Harkin.

Right now, UNI grads face an average student loan debt of more than $25,000. Over at Allen College, 88% of students depend on federal aid. Head start programs impact more than 8,000 kids in Iowa alone.

Harkin realizes the federal government needs to cut its budget, but agrees education is not the place to start.

"Let's look at places where we can cut spending that really is inefficient and wasteful. I really don't believe one of those areas is education. We're not wasting any money in education," he said.

State Senator Bill Dotzler added, providing access to education is key to economic recovery. He believes Congress should help unemployed workers receive training and education to allow them to return to the workforce in a better position than the one they left.

Online Reporter Colleen O'Shaughnessy

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